Suspected UK Terrorist Was Released From Prison Early and Known to MI5

WOKINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 22: A girl holds her skateboard as students lay flowers and pay
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Khairi Saadallah, the Libyan refugee who has been detained on suspicion of perpetrating the knife attack in Reading, was released early from prison, was enrolled in the government’s Prevent deradicalisation scheme, and is believed to have been known to the UK’s security services as a possible terror suspect before the attack.

Saad­allah had been sentenced in October 2019 to 25 months and 20 days in prison for breaching a suspended jail term, racially motivated assault, criminal damage, and affray (public fighting) — yet only served 17 months and 20 days behind bars.

In March, the Court of Appeal decided to cut the prison sentence for the 25-year-old short, releasing him 16 days before the terrorist attack took place this past Saturday, June 20th.

The Libyan refugee was given strict licence conditions upon his release due to his violent past and history of mental illness. However, probation and social service officials reportedly struggled to keep track of him due to the Chinese coronavirus national lockdown.

“He obviously had an interest in extremism dating to last year. He had delusional and probably paranoid schizophrenia and was on strong medication which could be administered regularly in prison. His issues mean any trigger could have been very quick,” a source told The Sun.

The source added his motives for the attack — in which he killed men reported to be part of the Reading LGBT community — “remains unclear” and “His associations in prison are one line of inquiry”.

Khairi Saadallah reportedly first entered the United Kingdom as an illegal migrant in 2012 before being granted asylum in 2018.

According to The Telegraph, he had bragged to his friends that he was a former child soldier in Libya, fighting to overthrow Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

“He would describe himself as a Libyan soldier and said he had escaped because he didn’t want to be in the army,” a friend of Saadallah said.

The 25-year-old is also said to have told friends that he “fought for and against Islamic State” terrorist organisation. His erratic claims were believed by health officials to be linked to a form of mental illness, The Times reported.

Saadallah had been involved in the government’s Prevent programme, which seeks to deradicalise people, mostly of the younger generation, who are at risk of joining extremist groups or committing acts of terror.

He is reported to have met with Prevent officials, and had access to various support services provided through the programme. Officials, however, determined that Saadallah was not a likely terror threat.

Sources inside Whitehall also revealed that Saadallah was “fleetingly” on MI5’s terrorist suspect list of 40,000 people, yet was never placed on the “subject of interest” list that monitors around 3,000 people believed to pose the highest threat to national security.

The British security service also investigated whether the Libyan migrant planned to travel to Syria, yet the investigation was dropped as it was not deemed credible.

“After a couple of months, we were confident there was nothing in the original information,” a Whitehall source said. They added: “It didn’t pass the threshold to merit a full investigation because the information was not credible enough.”

The Telegraph reported that the Home Office was prevented from removing the Libyan asylum seeker from the country because the British government has committed to not deport people to failed states or places with significant human rights violations.

The executive director of the neoconservative Henry Jackson Society think-tank, Dr Alan Mendoza, said that the government must change this policy. Dr Mendoza said: “In order to safeguard the public, the Home Secretary must be able to remove those foreign nationals, including asylum seekers, who no longer have the right of abode.”

“Yet over time, human rights case law has expanded so far as to make that near impossible with some nationals. This cannot be right – the Home Secretary’s powers must be restored,” Mendoza added.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “if there are lessons we need to learn about how we handle such cases and how we handle the events leading up to such cases, then we will learn those lessons and we will not hesitate to take action where necessary.”

On Monday, the three victims of the tragedy were named as David Wails, James Furlong, and Joe Ritchie-Bennett, all of whom were friends. The three men are believed to have been members of the LGBT community in Reading. However, it is not known whether they were targeted for this reason.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindudlka


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